A big smile in a little bar. Mari in Agaete, in the north of Gran Canarias Island.
By Elisabeth Scharang
The little restaurant from Mari and her husband Roberto is located in Porto Nueves near the village Agaete. On the one side you have the enormous mountains, on the other side the wild sea. When we came here for the first time there were not many people. It was windy and we didn’t want to sit outside (and there is no inside in this little restaurant). But then there was Mari and her smiling eyes. That was why we stayed on the first day and came again on the following. We started talking and asking about her life in this little village in the north of Gran Canarias.
You are your own boss?
MARI: Yes, definitely. That’s our restaurant. But it’s hard. I don’t recommend to open a bar and be your own boss. No! It’s better to work for other people, follow your timetable and say good-bye after eight hours. Because you know, I am working here at least ten hours a day. The most interesting thing in my job is that I can meet people from different places and countries.
But it seems that you always have a smile on your face!
MARI: Yea. I am smiling! But you know, sometimes it’s a mask. People don’t have to know about my problems. They come here to have a good time, to eat, to relax, they don’t need to look in an angry face, right?!
What makes you happy?
MARI: I try to give a short answer. You know the song of Elton John (she means John Lennon): Imagine all the people (she sings it with a smile in here face) … I like peace and peacefulness. That makes me happy.
When I see the tourists coming from Norway, Germany, Austria, England; coming from the big cities, having stressful faces. Oh, they are poor! Some of them have a hurry inside. You understand? Hurry, hurry! I don’t like someone saying to me: Quick! I hate that.
Are you a good cook?
MARI: No! (she is laughing) I am only good in talking and I try to make the guests feel well when they come to our bar. But my husband is cooking very well.
I was born in Las Palmas but I am living and working here in Agaete for twenty years now.
My first job after school was in an insurance company. I worked there in the call centre for three month. I did a lot of different jobs. I also worked as a secretary.
What dreams did you have as a teenager?
MARI: I dreamed about travelling around the world. I have been to some places – in Amsterdam, in France and in the south of England. Unfortunately I never had enough money to travel. But it is still my dream travelling trough the world with a backpack.
What do you do when you are not working?
MARI: Watching TV at home, visiting my friends in Las Palmas. And I LOVE going to the Hairdresser! (she laughs)
Why did you come to this little village?
MARI: I got married.
My family used to come to Agaete. We all loved this place and my uncle bought a house here for holiday. And that is why I met my husband. 1997 we opened this little restaurant.
How is it working together as a couple?
MARI: Sometimes well, sometimes we have our fights. (she smiles)
Do you want a bigger restaurant?
MARI: No! A bigger restaurant means more problems. And you don´t need to earn so much money. Life is not about earning more and more money. That doesn’t make you happy.
Maris’ husband Roberto brings two big photographs: Hundreds of people singing and dancing in the streets of the village. He explains in Spanish that this is the Feast of La Rama, which is celebrated every August. Mari translates.
MARI: This is La Rama Party. It is an old tradition and all the people from the island are coming here for celebration. They are dancing for eight hours on the street. Hundreds of people. And these are puppets showing old people who were living in our Village and who had died in the last year. People make these masks to say good-bye – you see this mask here? It was an old American woman who lived here for a very long time. Now she died and people decided to make a mask for her.
So you called your bar like this feast?
MARI: Yes, La Rama Restaurant.
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